(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two articles covering the Nov. 13, meeting of the Matewan Town Council.)
MATEWAN — The Matewan Town Council heard from two representatives with Appalachian Wireless about expanding the company’s cell phone service to the area.
Lynn Haney, compliance coordinator, and Marty Thacker, tower consultant, spoke with the council about constructing six antennas atop the town’s 143-foot tall water tower on the King Coal Highway across from Mingo Central High School.
Mayor Sheila Kessler said that the town’s attorney, Ron Flora, had questions regarding the lease, which would last 15 years and featured a rent increase every five. Haney said that the questions had been answered, which were given to the council to look over.
Thacker said that the construction “shouldn’t affect the use of the water tank.”
“If it did affect it, we would cease construction until the problem was solved,” he said.
Councilman David Smith asked if the lease was exclusive to Appalachian Wireless, to which Thacker replied that it was not, and that the town could “rent to someone else if it so desires.”
However, one of the major sticking points for the council was a fact that Smith brought up: The council can’t sign agreements that go outside of their term limits. The mayor and council members serve four-year terms.
“There is language that could be used to get around that though,” Smith said.
The councilman went on to say that he was “more concerned with that than anything else.”
The mayor also mentioned that there was no way for the town to terminate the lease, instead only a way for Appalachian Wireless to do so.
“You could see how we would be hesitant to sign a 15-year lease that you can terminate, but we can’t,” Kessler said.
She said that she would email Flora to get his input regarding the matter and that both of them would contact Haney directly afterwards.
While no action was taken by the council, it was decided that they would conduct a special meeting at a date to be determined to further discuss the matter before the next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 11. Despite having a few issues with the lease, most of the council seemed excited at the prospect of having reliable cell phone service in the area.
Kessler told the Daily News that cell phone service in Matewan was spotty, and that an Appalachian Wireless tower would be a boon to the community.